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Bastian Schweinsteiger and the top ten Premier League signings of the summer

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The wait is over. The new season is finally here. Along with it comes tens, if not hundreds of new footballing faces to our screens.

Over £550million has been spent by teams the top flight bringing in players, and that figure is sure to elevate before we reach September. 

With Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations now in place, clubs have had to be slightly more careful with their money. However that hasn't stopped records being broken of course. 

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In the midst of comings and goings, I've calculated what I think are the ten best Premier League purchases of the summer, taking form, price and age all carefully into account. Here they are.

10. Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton to Liverpool) £12.5m

First up is Liverpool's brand new right-back. The 24-year-old Englishman has spent three years with Southampton, and stood as a vital pillar in a defensive temple that conceded the fewest goals in the entire league last season, despite finishing seventh.

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Although the player's aspirations for his club this season might be slightly unrealistic, he's come to deal with a long-term issue at Anfield. From the shock white hair-beard combo of Abel Xavier to the laughably unpopular Glen Johnson, the only player that has seemed to make a significant impact at right-back has probably been Steve Finnan (who now runs a property business in London).

For £12.5m, the Reds have both a strong and speedy full-back that can make smart forward runs and track back to cover his spot. Only Nemanja Matic (129) made more successful interceptions than Clyne in the Premier League last year. In comparison with transfers like United's £30m for Shaw last summer, this seems like a bargain.

9. Rudy Gestede (Blackburn Rovers to Aston Villa) £6m

After selling their two best players (Delph and Benteke), Aston Villa needed to invest heavily in attacking reinforcements. Gestede could be just the addition up front they need.

Although the 26-year-old could be seen as a gamble, he scored 33 goals in 66 games whilst at Blackburn, and offers both a physical style on the ground and a formidable threat in the air that was already visibly clinical in Villa's first game.

Adapting his team's tactics, Tim Sherwood knew just how to play to Benteke's strengths in the latter stages of last season, which partly saved the club from relegation. It shouldn't be too hard for the Benin striker to fill those boots.

If he does, he'll be a huge asset to the team and prove more than worth his £6m price tag.

8. Petr Cech (Chelsea to Arsenal) £10m 

After a season of playing second fiddle to Thibaut Courtois, it was only mildly surprising that Chelsea's veteran 'keeper decided to take his services elsewhere. The eyebrow-raising side to his exit was that the 'keeper would move just six miles north to the Emirates.

He is the Gunners' only signing of the summer (so far) and Wenger has revealed that he'd been chasing him for a couple of years, and for good reason. Despite a bad start this weekend, Cech has been considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world since he arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2004. 

In 2014/15, Cech saved 88.9% of the shots he faced - higher than any other goalkeeper in the league. But that's not just because he featured in seven games. The Czech No.1 has held that position for the last three seasons too.

There is no question that across this season the 33-year-old will have a strong, positive impact at Arsenal. He may have seven years on both of the club's other 'keepers, but his experience makes him the perfect upgrade.

7. Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern to United) £14.4m

Despite age not being on the German's side in losing his Premier League virginity, at 31, he's is one of the most decorated and experienced footballers in the country.

Schweinsteiger has been collecting winners medals for 13 years. He has participated in six international tournaments, winning the World Cup last year, and is now the new Germany captain. He's played in two Champions League finals, winning one. He's lifted the Bunesliga's Deutsche Meisterschale a whopping eight times. I need not go on.

United may not be making a long-term investment, but the player's experience will be a massive benefit to the team in the next few years at least, both as a versatile midfield force and a mentor to younger players.

The only reason he's not further up my list, is his lower fitness levels could prove a problem for at the beginning of this season. 

6. Yohan Cabaye (PSG to Crystal Palace) £10m

Newcastle fans will not forget the difference made in letting go of Yohan Cabaye last year. Whilst present on Tyneside, the club had a 45% win ratio when he played, dropping to 21% when he didn't. He now returns to England with the same boss, but at a different club.

The French playmaker offers experience in both attacking and defensive midfield positions. In the 2012/13 season, his tackling created the most clear chances in the Premier League. 

But the most important part about this transfer is his reuniting with Alan Pardew, who signed the player in 2011. He was more than happy to have him back, after he surprisingly failed to retain a regular place at treble-winners PSG. Pardew described him as having 'the X-factor' that Crystal Palace needed.

The 29-year-old is undoubtedly a massive signing for the club, and it's already clear what an impact he will make, scoring on his debut and producing a man of the match performance on his Premier League return. If he keeps that up, he could help land the Eagles land safely inside the top half of the table.

5. Dimitri Payet (Marseille to West Ham) £10.7m 

When West Ham confirmed the signing of Dimitri Payet, it was a huge statement of intent that the east London side meant business this season. However, the road to its completion was no easy journey, and Marseille were clearly unhappy to sell him.  

Considering today's market, £10.7m makes this a particularly commendable swoop for the Hammers, but don't be fooled in thinking price is the main reason he makes it higher up onto this list. Across 2014/15, the French international created more chances than anyone else in the top five European leagues. He assisted 17 goals and scored seven in 35 appearances.

The 28-year-old is at the peak of his career, and offers astute vision and tenacity in midfield. He can read a striker's mind to play a quick ball through, and has even scored a few screamers himself. As his new manager Slaven Bilic said 'he's got everything!'.

If West Ham's strikers are on form, or they get in a player like Charlie Austin or Javier Hernandez, they could have the potential to challenge for a top six spot. Payet is key to making that happen.

4. Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton to United) £24m

I spoke earlier about Southampton's commendably tight back four, but the man who dominated midfield - and protected that defence - last year was Morgan Schneiderlin. 

The 25-year-old had a huge season for the Saints, a player that Gary Neville claimed was so organised in his position that he could play for any team in the league. Only Nemanja Matic bettered him come May, but Matic was part of an almost unbeatable Chelsea team.

The Frenchman is both a playmaker, attempting more through balls than anyone else in the league in 2014/15, and a tackler, making second highest number of successful challenges, only runner up to Man City full back Pablo Zabaleta. He didn't go more than five minutes without making a challenge last season. 

Why is he so far up this list? Although not the cheapest deal, it's a long-term investment that will be sure to pay off. Schneiderlin is essentially the second best defensive midfielder, from the best league in the world. (There's his selling point) 

Considering his age, form and how well he'll fit into a United midfield that - dealing with a an injury prone Carrick - yearns for the presence of a consistent defensive midfielder to yield a successful season. Now they have two. 

3. Max Gradel (Saint Etienne to Bournemouth) £7m

With newly promoted sides, it's often the case of turning to former Premier League greats or up-and-coming stars from the Championship to boost their squad and drive their routes into top flight soil.

Therefore it was understandably a bit of a shock to find AFC Bournemouth poaching a Ligue 1 star in his prime, and for such a small price.

Gradel scored a whopping 17 goals in 23 starts for St Etienne last season, making him the club's leading scorer. Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a better minutes-to-goals ratio of the French league's top ten goal scorers

The 27-year-old is no stranger to England, or Bournemouth. He was on loan with the Cherries back in 2007, where Eddie Howe was just a coach at the time. He stood out at Leeds and after showing his pace and eye for a finish, jumped the Eurostar to southern France, where he has since developed even more.

It's no doubt the winger is a massive coup. He's versatile in attack, has a lot of pace, can definitely score goals and has already spent time on the south coast, so he'll no doubt slide right back in. £7m is also a huge bargain. St Etienne could have comfortably asked for double that price, and then some. 

2. James Milner (Manchester City to Liverpool) Free

Where do I start? - there are so many reasons Milner's signature is a fantastic coup for the reds. The 29-year-old only started 18 games last season at Eastlands, and, despite the great times he's had at City, it was time to move somewhere that would satisfy his need for a solid spot on the team sheet.

If you're aware of Liverpool's infamous 'transfer committee' - the final line of approval behind (note sarcasm) shrew deals like Luis Alberto and Mario Balotelli - you'll know that employing a player at Milner's age is a slightly abnormal move for them, which only shows the respect such a transfer has commanded and the impact the club believes he'll have at Anfield. 

At first glance, you'd (be wrong to) think that this change is a step down for the 'boring' England international, but choosing a Steven Gerrard-ridden Liverpool is a perfect fit really.

A team looking for a dominant midfielder with vision that can win matches, which is essentially Milner all over. He has and can be the deciding factor in a game.

The Yorkshireman's biggest asset is his versatility, which in my eyes is second to none in England. He's played every midfield position there is, up front, and even in defence (but that didn't go very well) which is a championship-inspiring (or in Liverpool's case, top-four-inspiring) positive to have for any team.

Don't get me started on the fact he's gone for free. Yes, that is big part of why he sits as runner up on this list, but his dedication and experience, along with previously mentioned positives, make him a priceless addition to any side.

1. Andre Ayew (Marseille to Swansea) Free 

One big reason Swansea have been so successful in the Premier League has been their unique ability to attract talent that has had an immediately positive impact on the club's style, and, more importantly, the scoresheet. 

From almost forgotten Michu to Wilfred Bony, their investments have always been met with at least some success, and alongside that, managed a net spend of less than £3m over the past five years in total. In which case it really comes as no surprise to me that they've welcomed yet another gem through the doors and without costing the Swans a penny.

Ayew, who signed a four-year deal, is my signing of the season for a number of reasons. Firstly, he brings an abundance of experience with him, and at 25 he's still yet to hit his peak. Despite failing to settle at Marseille, the winger/striker scored 60 goals for the club in 180 appearances. 

What also makes him stand out is his ability to act quickly in creating goals as well as score them, which we saw a taste of in his first game against Chelsea. Ayew was praised by league legend Thierry Henry for his ability to pull the ball back to create space and score in a tense situation.

Due to the fact he has cost the club absolutely nothing is not besides the point, but the Ghanaian, who won BBC African Footballer of the Year in 2011, could be a the defining factor as to whether Swansea can challenge for a highly-coveted European spot, which is more unpredictable than ever this season of who will claim them.

It's been a great start for Ayew. If all goes to plan, Swansea and him will be a match made in heaven, mark my words. 

Football fans, do you agree with this list? Is there anyone missing? If so, let us know in the comments box below.

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Topics:
Newcastle United
Football
Crystal Palace
Petr Cech
Nathanial Clyne
Arsenal
Morgan Schneiderlin
Manchester City
Liverpool
Chelsea
Max-Alain Gradel
Yohan Cabaye
Aston Villa
Micah Richards
Southampton
James Milner
Premier League
Manchester United

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